Speaking to The Sun, the morning show presenter shared that Derek devastatingly whispered the word "pain" as the nurses attempted to reposition his body.
"It's a case of trying to balance belief, hope, optimism with reality," she said. "But we have had a breakthrough which was both amazing yet heartbreaking.
"It happened when the nurses were moving Derek, as part of his treatment, to trigger the sensation of gravity because he's been horizontal for so long."
Derek currently remains in a form of coma called a PDOC (Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness), which has left him generally unresponsive, but he surprised the nurses when he was able to speak for the first time in 214 days.
"Obviously it's so heart-wrenching that his first word was 'pain', but it is a huge breakthrough because it means he has been able to connect the feeling in his body to his brain and mouth," Kate continued.
"They called me straight after and I burst into tears. The staff told me later that they were so emotional as well.
"It breaks my heart that there may have been times that he's been in terrible pain and wasn't able to communicate it."
Kate went on to share that Derek has now said the word twice, and she was able to witness the second time as she watched over FaceTime.
"The emotionally challenging thing is that we're waiting now to see what happens next; somehow it's even more agonising now there's been this breakthrough.
"We have greater hope now, but also greater fear of him slipping back. There's no precedent to this virus. Even now no-one fully understands it and its long-term effects.
"There is no idea of timescale or any data as to how much he can recover or how long it will take."
On another positive note, Kate explained that Derek no longer needs his tracheostomy tube, meaning his lungs have started to work. However, she reiterated that his path to recovery is still a long one.
"Derek still needs help with his breathing, especially at night, and is very, very weak," she added.
"He is being given medicine and drugs to keep things functioning. The virus has left him type 1 diabetic – he had no diabetes before."
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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